Lawmakers, Cuomo agree to new sexual-assault policies for college campuses

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Cuomo in Nyack

New York will have a statewide definition of affirmative consent on college campuses as part of a law to combat sexual assaults.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders announced the deal today after the Democratic governor made his “Enough is Enough” campaign a top priority for the Legislature in the waning days of the session.

“Today is a victory for students across New York State,” Cuomo, who has three daughters, said in a statement. “As the governor, and as a father, I am proud that with this legislation New York will become a national leader in the fight against sexual assault on college campuses.”

Cuomo first proposed a package of laws in January after the state University of New York enacted a series of steps to increase oversight and reporting of sexual assaults on college campuses — a reaction to scandals at some colleges across the nation.

The new laws, set to be adopted before the legislative session ends this week, would create a definition of affirmative consent “as a knowing, voluntary, and mutual decision among all participants to engage in sexual activity.”

It would also create a statewide amnesty policy to encourage students to report incidents of sexual assault by granting them immunity from certain campus policy violations, such as drug and alcohol use.

The bill will also establish a “Students’ Bill of Rights” to be distributed on campuses, as well as new training standards for students and staff. Campuses will have to improve their reporting of sexual assaults, and State Police will create a new unit specialized in sexual assaults on campuses.

The state will add $10 million for the initiative.

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